After the Foligno/Crosby/Bryan Murray dust-up last month, people were probably waiting for the next time the teams met to see what type of a reaction there would be. Well, with Crosby out, that issue was brushed to the side and these two very depleted teams were able to focus on winning a hockey game.
How depleted? The Sens were without Milan Michalek, Sergei Gonchar, and Filip Kuba. The Penguins, on the other hand, were missing Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek, and Jordan Staal.
Needless to say, both teams were missing a lot of firepower, leading to a game that lacked some offensive flourish, both teams instead trying to grind out a win. During the first period, both teams were heavy on the grinding, but light on the winning, resulting in a scoreless frame. Seemed like fans would be in for an uneventful, low-scoring game.
It was anything but.
Three goals were scored in the first 2:05 of the second period, and a fourth was scored under 7 minutes in. The first goal, 25 seconds in, was a beautiful feed from Jason Spezza to Colin Greening on a 2-on-1. The Penguins responded just over a minute later with a nice snipe from Steve Sullivan, but then the Senators responded to that just 30 seconds later as Jason Spezza scored off a Daniel Alfredsson feed. A few minutes later, it was Alfie's turn to get a goal of his own, giving the Sens a 3-1 lead.
It wasn't meant to last, though, as the Penguins scored two power play goals within a minute of each other. Matt Niskanen had the first, Evgeni Malkin had the second, and we had a 3-3 game. Jared Cowen decided he wasn't going to allow this aggression stand, man, and got himself a goal off a lucky shot from the side boards that went in off a Pittsburgh player's skate.
Not satisfied with a four goal period, the Senators got a power play goal with six seconds left in the frame after Zenon Konopka tipped in a point shot from Erik Karlsson. Jason Spezza then added another insurance goal in the third period to make it 6-3, though the game ended 6-4 thanks to a late (and entirely futile) goal from Chris Kunitz.
It wasn't the dominant performance that the score might lead you to believe (the Sens were outshot 36-24), but the Senators found a way to win it in entertaining fashion tonight.
Sens Hero: Jared Cowen
With every game, Cowen gets a little bit better, and tonight was his best performance in a Sens jersey yet. He had a four point night (1 G, 3 A), was +4, and was erasing plenty of the Penguins' chances with his reach and strength. The kid is handling his increased icetime extremely well (28:11 tonight -- the most of any player in the game), and simply does not look like a rookie out there.
Sens Zero: David Rundblad
Rundblad, however, did look like a rookie. He played only 8:03 tonight, the second least of any player (Steve MacIntyre on the Pens played only 3:27), and that's including almost 4 minutes of powerplay time. He looked tentative with the puck, and just seems to be overthinking the game.
Sens Hero: Zenon Konopka
Konopka had a great night tonight, factoring in on a couple of goals. He didn't get credited on the scoresheet on the Daniel Alfredsson goal, but the goal only happened because of his excellent screen in front of Brent Johnson. Konopka's power play goal was also a direct result of his hard work -- he provided the face-off win that quickly got the puck back to Erik Karlsson, and then he provided both the screen and the tip for the puck to go in.
Sens Heroes: Jason Spezza & Daniel Alfredsson
Spezza and Alfie were reunited tonight, and it reaped serious rewards: Spezza had a four point night (2G, 2A) while Alfredsson had a three point night (1G, 2A). Their chemistry was apparent, as they managed to find each other on the ice with ease. Both finished +4 on the night.